Citing Katrina Myth, Obama Claimed ‘Oil Rigs Today Don’t Generally Cause Spills’

Brad Johnson

From Think Progress:

The Obama administration has leapt
into action
to respond to the growing crisis of the Deepwater
Horizon oil rig disaster, which killed 11 workers and left a
West-Virginia-sized oil spill in the Gulf Coast. But in the weeks before
the calamity, President Barack Obama promoted his initiative to expand
offshore drilling as "not
" and repeated the conservative
that Hurricane Katrina did not cause any oil rig spills. At a
town hall meeting in South Carolina on April 2, the president was
challenged that his "decision to allow offshore drilling could have the
effect of chilling investment into alternate sources of energy." While
recognizing that "energy efficiency and renewable, clean energy" is his
"biggest priority," Obama also defended
offshore drilling

I don't agree with the notion that we shouldn't do
anything. It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't
cause spills. They are technologically very advanced. Even
during Katrina, the spills didn't come from the oil rigs
, they
came from the refineries onshore.

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This is incorrect.

Eighteen days later, the Deepwater Horizon rig operated by BP America
41 miles of the Louisiana coast exploded. The giant spill has not yet
reached the beaches of
the Gulf Coast
, and there is a chance the damage can be limited by setting
some of the oil ablaze

Obama's claim that oil rigs did not cause any spills during Hurricane
Katrina is simply false, as the Wonk Room reported
in June, 2008
, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other
made the same false claim:

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused 124 Offshore
Spills For A Total Of 743,700 Gallons.
554,400 gallons were
crude oil and condensate from platforms, rigs and pipelines, and 189,000
gallons were refined products from platforms and rigs. [MMS, 1/22/07]

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused Six Offshore Spills Of
42,000 Gallons Or Greater.
The largest of these was 152,250
gallons, well over the 100,000 gallon threshhold considered a "major
spill." [MMS, 5/1/06]

On April 23, three days after the rig caught fire, White House Press
Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama's support for
offshore drilling was unchanged

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